JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The Government intends to pass several key pieces of legislation this fiscal year to replace Her Majesty the Queen as Head of State, and establish fixed election dates and term limits for the post of Prime Minister.
  • Also, the Judicial Accountability legislation will be enacted to ensure judicial accountability for performance and behaviour in office.
  • In addition, the National Human Rights Institute (NHRI) will be established in law and the Office of the Public Defender will be enhanced to incorporate the NHRI.

The Government intends to pass several key pieces of legislation this fiscal year to replace Her Majesty the Queen as Head of State, and establish fixed election dates and term limits for the post of Prime Minister.

This was outlined in the Throne Speech delivered yesterday (April 14) at Gordon House by Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen.

Among the legislation to be passed are: A Constitution (Amendment) Bill to replace Her Majesty the Queen with a Non-Executive President as Head of State; A Constitution (Amendment) Bill to address the judicial review of the Director of Public Prosecutions; the Criminal Justice (Plea Negotiations and Agreements) (Amendment) Bill which provides for reduced sentences on guilty pleas; and further amendments to the Dangerous Drugs Act to give full legalisation for marijuana to be used for specified purposes.

Also to be undertaken are amendments to the INDECOM Act, while an Arbitration Bill will be brought to Parliament to govern the conduct of domestic and international arbitration in Jamaica.

The Governor-General also advised that several anti-corruption bills are slated to be passed.

These include the Impeachment Legislation, which will provide for impeachment proceedings to be brought against corrupt public officials, and the Integrity Commission Bill to establish a Single Anti-Corruption Body.

Also to be brought to the Houses of Parliament is the Judicature (Resident Magistrate) (Amendment) Bill to provide a right to appeal by the prosecution against manifestly inadequate sentences. This will allow for a retrial where a verdict has been contaminated, for example, by jury tampering. It will also stiffen the penalties for obstructing or perverting the course of justice.

Also, the Judicial Accountability legislation will be enacted to ensure judicial accountability for performance and behaviour in office.

Under the Law Reform (Notice of Alibi) Bill, new provisions will be made for the notice of alibi in criminal proceedings.

The Mutual Assistance (Criminal Matters) (Amendment) Bill, which is slated for passage, will allow for the introduction of evidence by TV link and video-recorded evidence.

In addition, the National Human Rights Institute (NHRI) will be established in law and the Office of the Public Defender will be enhanced to incorporate the NHRI.

Meanwhile, the Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Suppression and Punishment) Act will be amended to enable the courts to prosecute offences under the Act without a jury.

The Throne Speech was delivered under the theme: ‘Building a Partnership for Prosperity’